Gavin Henson returns with an eye on greatness

Gavin Henson wants to be regarded as one of the rugby greats. He wants to play for Wales against England when the Six Nations begins in February. He wants to go to the World Cup in New Zealand next year and play for the British and Irish Lions once more.

The man who has strutted across our television screens for the past three months on Strictly Come Dancing wants it all. He will discover how realistic those ambitions are, however, when he plays his first game in 21 months for new club Saracens against Wasps in the Aviva Premiership at Wembley this afternoon.

Henson has not played since March 2009 after falling out of love with rugby amid constant injuries and personal problems which led to his split with former fiancee Charlotte Church. He claims he did not watch a single club rugby match in his self-imposed exile.

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"The first six or seven months out I didn't miss it at all," said Henson. "I thought I was done with it. Looking back on it I thought I had done all right. I was quite happy with it (the decision to take a break from playing] then, but luckily I started feeling more positive about the game. It will be nice to have a bit of contact again and feel sore on a Monday and a Tuesday. I've missed that. I'm not fearful. I'm really excited."

He expects the doubters. He admits he is not sure himself whether he can return to the heights which saw him take the man-of-the-match award against England in 2005 when he kicked the winning penalty from 48 metres and delivered a tackle which England centre Mathew Tait is probably still feeling. That was the last time he believes he felt truly happy and fully fit on a rugby field.

"I've just missed the game so much," he admits. "It is something I have done since the age of five. Rugby is what I'm about.

"I haven't fulfilled my potential. I can play a lot better than I have done. That's the goal for me, to get honours again and win trophies and be regarded as one of the best players. It is a much better Gavin Henson now and I hope that will give me an edge in games. I'm in a much better place. The drive and the hunger is there and I can play at a better level than I did before because of all the experiences I have had. I feel I have matured a bit."

Yet while Henson would not advise anyone to put their mortgage on him being on the Welsh teamsheet to meet England on 4 February he cannot help but dream.

"Whenever Wales beat England it picks up the whole nation," Henson said. "I'd love to be involved in that game. That was a great game for me in 2005, probably one of my best games. I'd like to outdo that performance one day."

The presence of Henson, who won two Grand Slams with Wales in 2005 and 2008, should guarantee a 50,000 crowd at Wembley although he is likely to start on the bench.

His contract with third placed Saracens extends until the end of the season when both sides will review the situation.For Henson much depends on whether he can dovetail rugby with seeing his children who live with Church in Cardiff. "My kids are the main thing," he said. "If Charlotte stays in Cardiff with them and it still works out with me being in London then I've got no reason to move. And hopefully I play well enough for Saracens to want me."